Chris Dixon is a venture capitalist who invests in start-ups and co-founded Hunch, a website acquired by eBay in 2011 for $80 million. According to Business Insider, Dixon thinks some of the best business ideas actually start out sounding pretty dumb.
Why? Big companies believe they are already working on all the "good" ideas, at least according to the consensus of a larger group. Smaller companies need to be more resourceful—they need to develop innovative approaches that big companies might think are too far out or too "stupid" for them. Smaller companies are nimble, and can more easily test out their dumb business ideas. They can address the needs of seemingly niche audiences, such as the market for square watermelons or the demand for "Geese Police."
Here are some examples of stupid business ideas that turned out to be pretty smart. Or shall we say, "Beanie Baby smart," but with greater growth potential? All of these companies started small and grew, grew, grew!
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Well before Google became a verb, there were about 20 search engines, including Yahoo. Google was not only late to the game, it was late at a time when web search wasn't considered a good business model. Why would you base a business on a website that sent traffic to other sites? Because you can charge advertisers a lot of money to reach searchers.
Note also that a lot of people think a self-driving car and glasses that contain a computer sound stupid, too.
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Even the name sounds stupid. According to a Twitter co-founder Biz Stone (yes, real name), even the engineers thought it was a stupid idea. But Twitter's initial public valuation exceeded $30 billion. And it's changed the way people communicate throughout the world.
When the iPad was first announced in 2010, people made jokes that it sounded like a sanitary napkin. Media and financial analysts couldn't see why anyone would want one. Today, Apple continues to have the largest share of the tablet market it created.
Stupid Is as Stupid Does
Yes, that's a catchphrase from one the top grossing films of all time (Forrest Gump), which on the surface seemed like a pretty stupid premise. What film audience would pay to watch a mentally slow character for two hours? The joke remains on the studio executives who passed on script.
Likewise, just as there is no such thing as a stupid question, there is no idea too stupid to have the potential of great business success. Ever hear of Pet Rocks? You just have to be smarter than most other people to pull it off. For more inspiration look at these crazy product ideas that grossed a million or more.